- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday ordered the state’s employee insurance plan and its Medicaid plan to limit narcotic painkiller prescriptions in an effort to cut future drug addiction.

The order signed by the Republican governor limits the initial prescription of opioid drugs for adults to a 7-day supply. Children are not prescribed more than a 7-day supply unless they have cancer, other chronic disease or a traumatic injury.

Ducey announced the actions during a Capitol event kicking off a campaign highlighting substance abuse issues known as National Red Ribbon Week.

“This is a preventive step, and one we hope that employers and insurance companies will follow our lead to address the scourge of addiction on the front end,” Ducey said.

The governor also announced that people with state-provided insurance will no longer need pre-approval to be prescribed Vivitrol, a drug that blocks receptors for opiates and alcohol that is prescribed to recovering addicts.

“It can make the road to recovery a much smoother one,” Ducey said.

The governor pushed back on questions from reporters about putting government between patients and doctors.

“We lost 401 Arizonans in the last year due to this issue. We know that there is a problem and we’re acting on it,” he said.

The state’s Medicaid plan is also implementing $4 co-pays for some people who receive narcotic painkiller prescriptions under a waiver approved by the federal government last month. The co-pays are due after the prescription is filled and people can be kicked off the insurance program if they fail to pay.

Ducey also signed laws this year requiring doctors to check a database before prescribing narcotics to ensure patients are getting drugs elsewhere, and making an opioid antidote available without a prescription.

The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family coordinates the yearly Red Ribbon Week effort to educate Arizonans about substance abuse issues.

Ducey’s broader message to a gathering of several hundred schoolchildren, addiction counselors, law enforcement officials and lawmakers was that the state needs to do more to address addiction, especially among young people. He pointed out that more young people die from addiction-related causes each year than from suicide, firearms, school violence and car accidents combined.

“Let’s be clear, addiction is not a moral failing, it’s a disease, and it must be treated as such,” Ducey said. “That means prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery, and it also means better education for our youth and parents alike.”

Ducey, however, declined to commit to adding funding in next year’s budget for addiction recovery efforts.

“We think recovery is important. The way to avoid some of the high costs of recovery is certainly through prevention, that’s what this morning is about,” he said. “We’re also deep at work at the budget and depending on where we are on the numbers we’re going to hopefully have more money available.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide